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Transferring to a different Boy Scout troop


Guest Cappuccio
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Guest Cappuccio

My son has been in his Boy Scout troop for 3 years and is currently a Star scout. He completed the requirements for Life last October, but has been denied his Board of Review repeatedly for various reasons - "you need to have a leadership position other than Den Chief", "you have to earn the respect of the older scouts", "you need to show more leadership in the troop", "you need to write up a report of your goals, timeline and ideas for your future Eagle project").

 

He has continued as Den Chief because he really enjoys working with younger scouts, and he recently led and organized a service community project for the entire troop with a local food bank. However, he never receives positive feedback from any of the leaders and has not enjoyed going to Scouts for sometime now. There are some scouts in the troop who are not particularly friendly, and most of the scouts go to a different school. (The troop is large, 100+ scouts, from 2-3 cities).

 

For several months we have talked about changing troops and if this is what he wants to do. We attended other troops' meetings and he found a local troop that is smaller (60 scouts) and has many boys from his school in it. The new troop welcomed him and said they would love to have him join. They are closer to our home, seem very organized and active, and there are other scouts that will go to the same high school as my son.

 

This week we told the leader of the old troop that he wanted to change. After a lengthy discussion on the reasons why, the troop leader apologized for not being more encouraging, but ultimately wished him luck. I thought everything was ok until we started walking to the car and my son started to cry (a rare site now that he's 14). I asked him why and he said it was "just the stress of making the decision to change," and that he has a lot of memories with the old troop, but that he knows it is the thing to do.

 

Now I'm wondering if this is really the best thing in the long-run. Seeing my son react so emotionally caught be off-guard because I really thought he was anxious to change and excited about the new troop. I want my son to have good memories of the past 3 years with the old troop, but I'm afraid the last few months and changing troops will tarnish his memories of all the campouts, projects and experiences he had with the old troop.

 

I also think about the future, when he finally reaches Eagle ... How will that experience be for him if he is with a troop for only a year or two? Will he still feel the great accomplishment and bond with scouting when he didn't go through the ranks and development with the boys in the new troop?

 

I know boys change troops all the time, but I guess I'm just looking to be reassured that we did the right thing. My husband said it is the right thing and he needs to now stick with his decision.

 

I was wondering if anyone had a similar experience or thoughts on the matter?

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I think his reaction is normal and healthy. The troop wasn't all bad, even if it wasn't all good either. Of course there will be good things to remember, and some sadness over some of the people he is leaving behind. However, his reasons for changing are good ones, and this is a carefully considered decision. Walk forward knowing that the new troop won't be perfect either, but that there is reason to hope that it will be better.

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Change is almosts always hard, even when the change is for the better. It is healthy to have feelings of grief over a loss. It will be good for you to acknowledge those feelings as normal and let him know how proud you are of him having made this very grown up decision. Most hard decisions are not between good and evil, but between good and better, and he chose better.

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I think his reaction is normal also.

 

We are moving this summer and we are all super sad. We will miss our life here, our friends, our memories of our experiences, but where we are moving to as the opportunities that we need for our children for what they want in their lives (such as year round swim).

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Well - first - a Troop cannot change BSA requirements (either adding to or subtracting from them) for rank.

Den chief is considered a "Position of Responsibility" and does count towards his leadership position for rank advancement.

So - they CANNOT tell him no for that reason.

Second - a boy can ask for a Board of Review without the Scoutmaster's permission. The Scoutmaster can only advise the scout as to whether he thinks the scout is ready for the board.

Even if the Scoutmaster says "no", the scout can still schedule his board.

Even if you leave the troop - I highly recommend bringing these issues up with the committee chair and the scoutmaster.

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One more thing - 60-100 kids in a troop is insanely large, in my opinion. We have about 25 active scouts which is a nice number. Once you get past about 45 or so - it is very difficult for the leaders (both the boy leaders and the adults leaders) to have any kind of relationship with the scouts.

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Am I the only one who's "mommy radar" has been activated? Something seems wrong about that other troop. Are you sure there wasn't something else going on that your son hasn't told you about? Maybe the crying/stress reaction was also from relief. Relief at leaving a situation that was worse than he was letting on... (Hope that's not the case.)

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Guest Cappuccio

Thank you all for your replies and thoughts!  I feel better about the decision and you all have helped tremendously with your opinions and suggestions.

 

SailorMom - I spoke to another scout parent from our old troop this morning whose son was denied his Eagle Board of Review for one full year (!) because the SM insisted that he be Senior Patrol Leader before the BOR.  I asked her how that made her son feel and what did they do.  She said her son was angry, and that they went to Council and reported the SM.  Council didn't really do much, but after a year and being Assistant SPL (on SM's insistence), he got his BOR and he's having his Court of Honor this month.  She said once the COH is done, they are moving their younger son (a Life scout in the same patrol my son was in) out of the troop. That will make 5 scouts I know of who have transferred out of this particular troop to a different one just since we've been in it (and that's not counting some boys who dropped out of scouting altogether).

 

I think mom2scouts's thought on his tears is partly what they were (relief) and partly what MarinesWife said (sad to leave some friends), and don't believe they were anything more serious as jenbrdsly thought might be the case (but thank you for the concern!). Like Harriet Vane commented, the old troop "wasn't all bad, even if it wasn't all good either" and they were always careful to have 2+ adults/other scouts present with a scout.

 

Margaret in CO - I emailed the troop accountant and requested our rechartering dues of $151 we paid in November as well as his campership fund balance, which I don't think it a lot, probably less than $60. I don't know what, if any, they will return, but at minimum I will ask that the Council/District part of the dues be applied to the new troop District. His record looks up-to-date with the exception of his last MB - Citiz. In Community completed in November, but I gave them a copy of the completed blue card and they said they would correct it. I will definitely stay on top of that.

 

TracyMirko - You summed it up perfectly ... "Most hard decisions are not between good and evil, but between good and better, and he chose better." Thank you for that!

 

Again, thank you all so much for taking the time to not only read my long post, but to offer your viewpoints! I only found this site this morning and am touched by the immediate and thoughtful responses.

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